After years of expectant waiting, rumors and City Council sessions, ground has finally been broken on Beck Ventures' much-anticipated “city within a city,” Dallas Midtown, at the site of Valley View Mall. Scott Beck, the company's president and CEO, called the development a renaissance and “Dallas’ most critical transformation project this century.”
Phase one will constitute approximately $500 million of the $4 billion project and is scheduled to be fully operational by the beginning of 2020. The development will bring to the northern border of Dallas nearly 1 million square feet of retail and office space, an 18-floor hotel, a 10-screen luxury cinema, a 183,000-square-foot health and wellness center, 1,000 new apartments and the 20-acre park Midtown Commons.
“This project all started with a single vision, the desire to reinforce our northern city boundary all while creating an urban, mixed-use village in the center of the population density in Dallas,” Beck said at the groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning. He referred to the development as a kind of “catcher’s mitt,” that will give Dallas a competitive edge in attracting corporations to the city proper as opposed to setting up shop in neighboring suburbs such as Plano and Irving.
“Today will mark the day when our city stops the flight of corporate America from our city’s urban core to the far-out reaches of our northern and western suburbs,” Beck said. “For far too long, city politics have created an environment where, instead of encouraging and demanding policy for strong northern and southern sectors of our city, we have enabled and allowed neighboring cities to take away valuable corporate clients from the tax base of Dallas.”
When completed, Dallas Midtown will add an estimated $20 billion in taxable value to the city, which Beck says is equivalent to the taxable value of Uptown and the central business district of downtown combined. The project will also generate another $70 million in tax increment financing funds for the redevelopment of South Dallas, which Beck calls a “shot of adrenaline” to the future of the city.
The growth in Dallas’ tax base would ultimately bring a solution to the city’s crumbling infrastructure, the underdeveloped northern sector and, as Beck put it, the “crippled police and [firefighter’s] pension fund."
"This mall, this shopping center is a mega big tax growth for the city of Dallas,” said Tennell Atkins, District 8 City Council representative, stressing the need for Dallas to grow in all directions. “This is not a press conference; this is something that we need to grow the city base — we got to grow the tax base. If we don’t grow the tax base, your garbage ain’t getting picked up, your potholes ain’t getting fixed. … If we don’t grow the tax base, you’re going to move out of Dallas.”
The Dallas Midtown Park Foundation will manage the development’s centerpiece, the city-owned, 20-acre Midtown Commons park. The foundation was modeled after the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation, which led to the creation of Klyde Warren Park. Midtown Commons will dwarf the 5-acre Klyde Warren.
Amy Monier, Dallas Park and Recreation Board representative for District 11, said the park will be a defining space for generations and will be equivalent to a Central Park in Dallas. It will be an iconic public space in an area marred for years by the blight of a near-abandoned mall. The park will also connect Dallas Midtown to the nearby Galleria Dallas via trolley.
“One of the pillars of the city-initiated vision plan for Dallas Midtown was the need for more open space,” Beck said. “This is the reason why former Dallas councilwoman Lois Finkelman, the former president of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Bruce Bradford, and I created the nonprofit Dallas Midtown Park Foundation.”
If Dallas Midtown can achieve half of what has been put forth by Beck Ventures and the partnering developers, it would still be one of the most transformational projects Dallas has ever seen. It is already the grandest example of a mixed-use development in the city, and Linda Koop, the former District 11 councilwoman who worked with Beck to create Dallas Midtown before becoming the a Texas state representative, said the development's zoning infill case was one of the largest in U.S. history.
“This is really a once-in-a-generation project that comes along, and I know with Beck in charge, it will be that kind of project that will be a project that will last and last and last and be a centerpiece of not only North Dallas but of Dallas as well,” Koop said.